Just the other day I was wondering to myself, “What happened to Terrence Howard?” Terence Howard, Academy Award nominee whose career was scorching hot for a minute a few years ago. Then I wandered into Red Tails and found out.
Howard forms part of the ensemble cast of a movie produced by George Lucas who was apparently itching for many years to produce the story of the Tuskegee Airmen who fought so valiantly for the Yanks in World War II. Lucas felt so passionately about the story that he foot the bill for the entire $58 million production. In short, it has been Lucas’s pet project for years.
So many years, in fact, that the only person interested in the script was Cuba Gooding, Jr., who stars as one of the heroic pilots charged with protecting America’s skies . . . even if that very same nation deems him a second class or even pseudo citizen.
It all sounds noble, yes, and most people have at least heard of the nation’s foremost legion of African American air force pilots. But the execution leaves so much to be desired that you end up not only wondering how it all went so insufficiently wrong, but how one of Hollywood’s biggest producer’s pet projects could have been so shabbily handled.
It’s as derivative and cloying and clichéd as possible. Not a moment is wasted to remind you of other better-made and better-acted films. Only Cuba Gooding seems to understand that there is more to acting than looking longingly into the camera. Shudder.
In the end, I kind of have to doubt that Lucas cared that much about getting this movie made, especially getting it made this way. If he was really passionate about it, he would have done more than pony up the production cost: he would have sought to treat the subject with the reverence and sensitivity it deserves.